Transparency International Bangladesh (TIB) and the Anti-Corruption Commission have identified widespread corruption in two public utility companies, the Water Supply and Sewage Authority (Wasa) and Titas Gas. Wasa is the sole supplier of drinkable water to the estimated 17 million Dhaka residents and what a TIB study has revealed is that nearly half the city residents do not get water as per their need. TIB's survey covered 142 out of 284 areas in 10 Wasa zones and 62 percent respondents stated that they had fallen victim to various types of graft to get water and sewerage connections. The ACC on the other hand has identified 22 areas of graft in Titas Gas that range from illegal connections to meter tampering.
When we look at the ACC's findings on Titas Gas, there were more than 118,000 illegal connections and the monies paid for such connections did not go to government coffers. With hardly any guidelines for providing gas connections, commercial establishments like hotels, restaurants, etc. have been found to be availing industrial gas connections, which carries a much cheaper tariff than commercial rates.
The sad reality is that our public utility companies have long been dens of corruption and that is due to the fact that there is little in way of accountability in our state-run institutions. There is a dearth of rules and guidelines to govern the appointment of qualified personnel in these institutions or rotating staff. In fact recruitment is said to be highly politicised and internal audit reports against cases of graft are seldom acted upon. Unless authorities are willing to act against syndicates of corrupt officials and introduce measures to cut illegal connections, there will be neither improvement in service quality nor an end to the pilferage that is costing the national exchequer thousands of crores of taka every year.